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thumbnail Up, up, and away for Hot Air Balloon Day
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Up, up, and away for Hot Air Balloon Day © Taliesin Black-Brown and Ben Cowan/Nimia
Really, there’s only one way to celebrate Hot Air Balloon Day properly. But if you can’t catch a ride in a basket under a giant balloon today, know that the idea dates back at least to 3rd-century China, where paper lanterns were used as military signals. Fast forward to 18th-century France, where two paper-making brothers, the Montgolfiers, launched unmanned hot air balloons. Then, to great fanfare, they tried sending up a sheep, duck, and chicken, and finally, Étienne Montgolfier took a ride. Designs have improved since then, resulting in the standard hot air balloon seen here.